Las Vegas, Nevada
Every family experiences great difficulty while their loved one battles a life-threatening disease. So many lives are thrown into turmoil once a diagnosis is revealed.
In addition to heart-wrenching concerns and fear, many struggle with the financial pain of keeping it all together.
This is the story of one patient’s family.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Luis was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
His only hope for a cure was a bone marrow transplant. But he lived in Las Vegas where there is no transplant center, so he had to travel to Southern CA to receive care and prepare for his transplant.
Although his family comes from a modest background, they made it work for several months. Unfortunately, medical complications ensued, and they eventually exhausted their savings.
Luis’ wife Madelourdes remained with him as his caregiver.
The Caregiver Requirement
Every transplant center requires a 24/7 caregiver to help a patient during treatment and transplant. It’s required by the medical team, but the expenses are not covered by many patients insurance. The cost of housing, transportation, and meals became too much for Luis’ family.
Their only source of income came from their daughter, who was living in Las Vegas. As a single mom working two jobs, she did the best she could.
Luis’ wife slept on two chairs at her husband’s bedside.
Assisting with Lodging and Meals
The Icla da Silva Foundation assists bone marrow transplant patients and their families during a very difficult time. Through our IclaCares program, we were able to provide funds to Luis’ family for lodging and meals.
The family will use the lodging funds sporadically so his wife and caregiver Madelourdes can get a decent night of sleep and a shower every once in awhile while her husband completes treatment.
As soon as they received the news, the family called us with tears of joy. They were overwhelmingly grateful for the support we provided.
We wish Luis a full recovery.
We were happy to help this family. We only wish we could do the same for more families in their urgent time of need. No one should have to sleep between two chairs while their loved one battles a life-threatening disease.
You Can Help
Your donation will make a difference to a patient family in desperate need. Every gift, no matter the size, will help a family who has a loved one on the difficult path to receive a bone marrow transplant.
Please consider making a donation to help a patient family like Luis’.
Thanks for reading.
Written by: Bret ItskowitchSupporting a Teenager on his Journey to a Bone Marrow Transplant
REMOVING BARRIERS: JAKE’S STORY
Columbia Station, Ohio
Meet Jake and his sister Bella.
Jake is a brave boy who fought a difficult journey with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). After being diagnosed with this aggressive form of blood cancer, he received treatment and went into remission. But then he relapsed and urgently needed a bone marrow transplant.
Luckily, his younger sister Bella was a matching donor, and Jake received a transplant.
Throughout treatment, Jake and his family faced many hardships. These included the financial strain of his mom having to stop working, and the need to stay at a Ronald McDonald house to be close to the hospital.
During recovery, Jake experienced painful mucositis that made it hard for him to eat.
Thanks to the IclaCares program, Jake and his family received much-needed assistance with meals and groceries. Your support helped reduce some of the stress and allowed them to focus on Jake’s recovery.
BECOME A SUPPORTER
Join Icla Cares by Supporting Patients and Their Families
Jake is still in recovery.
He just celebrated his 16th birthday. We wish him many healthy, Happy Birthdays in the years ahead.
You can make a difference in the life of a patient like Jake by making a donation.
Your gift provides critical assistance, including meal support during treatment. Help us continue to provide comfort and support to a patient on their journey to receive a bone marrow transplant.
Written by: Bret ItskowitchPATIENT UPDATE: We love to see a patient smile
We just received an update from a recent patient. Kristina is a single mother who was diagnosed with AML and needed support traveling out-of-state to receive her treatments.
We removed that barrier and she recently reached out with an update:
My sons and I were able to get out in the new snow up north during school break to do some sledding. This is the 1st time we’ve revisited this tradition since before I got sick with AML!!!
Click and watch the 0:08 video below. Listen to her laughing!!
You can make more patients smile on their journey to a cure. Please donate today.
Read our first story about Kristina, and watch her video talking about the importance of the support she received using this link.
DONATE TODAYShe Passed Out in the ER
REMOVING BARRIERS – LANEATER’S STORY
Laneater Johnson was working from home; she didn’t feel well all morning. On her first break of the day, she had chills that made her shake uncontrollably. She realized she had a fever, so she took some Tylenol and decided it was best to go to the emergency room.
She knew something wasn’t right; maybe it was a urinary tract infection.
After the triage assessment they give you when you visit the ER, they sent her to the waiting room to wait for a doctor, but she passed out.
Laneater was rushed to undergo all kinds of tests. They didn’t know what was wrong. She was right about having an infection, her body was septic. When the results came back, she was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia).
She was immediately transported to Medical City Dallas to undergo 45 days of intense chemotherapy treatment.
A Long Process
She went through a long process that included many inpatient visits for continued tests and chemotherapy. Those treatments went on for about a year before they determined that she needed a bone marrow transplant.
There were no matching donors for her on the national registry, so they tested her siblings and her children.
Everyone in the family was a half-match, but her youngest daughter represented the best possible match.
In June 2022, Laneater received a blood stem cell transplant from her daughter.
Laneater was not able to work since that very first visit to the emergency room. Even after finally receiving her bone marrow transplant, she still couldn’t return home.
Since she lived more than 50 miles from the transplant center, she was required to stay nearby for continued monitoring until the hematologist released her.
Fortunately, she was released soon after.
The Icla da Silva Foundation supports patients undergoing a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Our Icla Cares program removes barriers to treatment with emotional, logistical, and financial assistance during treatment.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to help Laneater with a small grant to offset lodging expenses while receiving follow-up treatment at Medical City Dallas. Her stay was shorter than expected, but that didn’t stop Laneater from showing how grateful she was to receive assistance.
“This support came when I was in dire need, I didn’t know where I was going to get the rest of the money.”
It has been a long journey, but her doctors say she is doing well. Laneater looks great, and she smiles as she tells us that she can’t wait for her hair to grow back.
Watch Laneater share her story
We have high hopes for her continued recovery.
Please consider supporting the mission of the Icla da Silva Foundation. Your donation will help more patients like Laneater. Your gift will support bone marrow patients with critical needs.
Together we will continue to make a difference.
MAKE A DONATION
Written by: Bret Itskowitch
Another Barrier Removed When No One Else Could Help
The Icla da Silva Foundation goes the ‘extra mile’ to ensure that another life is saved.
Young Herzel was inspired to become a nurse after surviving thyroid cancer in 2017. The remarkable care that she received as a patient impacted her greatly, and she enrolled in nursing school with a desire to help others.
But while preparing for her exam to become a Certified Dialysis Nurse, Herzel was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
A bone marrow transplant was her only chance for a cure, and there were no matching donors for her on the registry.
Finding a Donor
The bone marrow transplant team at New York-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center acted fast to test her brother Reggie back in the Philippines as a potential donor.
Luckily, he was a 100% match.
However, this fantastic news still presented a barrier.
Herzel is a smart, hard-working young woman. Although she was unable to maintain her employment during so many visits and treatments at the hospital, she kept her living expenses low and paid her bills on time.
But the expense to bring her brother to the U.S., so he could transplant his stem cells, was unaffordable at the moment. Her savings had already been depleted.
She didn’t know what to do. Her doctors wanted to schedule the transplant as soon as possible.
No organization was able to fund international travel for her donor.
A social worker at New York-Presbyterian contacted the Icla da Silva Foundation. After gathering and organizing the necessary paperwork, and thanks to the generous supporters of the Foundation, not only did we provide the funds, we made the flight reservations.
Within days, this life-threatening financial barrier was removed and Herzl’s brother arrived in New York for the donation. The transplant was successful and Reggie saved his sister’s life. They spent a few days together before he returned home to the Philippines.
The gift of life that Herzel received only strengthened her desire to help others.
She passed her nursing exams and recently began working for the NYC Department of Health. Herzel is thankful for the support that she received and has applied to Volunteer for the Icla da Silva Foundation.
We asked Herzel what she would say to the donors who made her brother’s trip possible.
“I want to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity to live a healthy life again. I couldn’t be any more grateful for the Icla da Silva Foundation. I want to help the Foundation as much as I can so other patients like me can have the same opportunity for life.”
You can help us support more patients like Herzel. Your donation will remove barriers for patients needing a bone marrow or cord blood transplant.
Your donation will save lives.
Written by: Bret ItskowitchRhynett’s 2nd Battle With Cancer
More than 25 years ago, Rhynett Chatman was diagnosed with cancer. She fought that battle and was fortunate to survive.
Now she is fighting cancer once again.
In May of 2017, she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). MDS is a form of blood cancer which prohibits the body from producing enough healthy blood cells in the bone marrow.
Rhynett told us that she always felt tired, and she lost a considerable amount of weight. Despite chemotherapy and numerous blood transfusions, there was no improvement in her condition.
Most Recent Diagnosis
Recently, her diagnosis was changed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). There was a definitive overproduction of immature blood cells in her bone marrow. AML quickly gets worse if it is not treated immediately.
Doctors advised Rhynett that she would need a bone marrow transplant in order to survive.
Searching for a Match
For African American patients with various blood cancers like leukemia, finding a matching bone marrow donor is a difficult task. The chances of finding a match on the national registry are only 23%. There simply aren’t enough Black donors on the registry. For comparison, White patients have a 77% chance of finding a matching donor on the registry.
We are trying to change this unfortunate fact.
The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be the Match registry. Our efforts are focused specifically on adding more diversity to the list of potential donors.
We are trying to help Rhynett find a matching donor by holding donor drives. We share her story, explain the need, and provide details on joining the registry and donating stem cells if you match a patient in need.
Anyone between the ages of 18-40 can join the registry at no cost. If you match a patient, they don’t even use your insurance to perform the transplant. Be the Match takes care of everything.
To join the registry in support of Rhynett, please click this link:
join the registry
Rhynett’s Search for a Donor
Unfortunately, there is no matching donor in her family. And there is no match for her on the national registry.
We are doing everything we can to share her story and enable more people to join the registry on her behalf.
Rhynett tells us that her body hurts. “I get tired easily. I have been receiving blood transfusions for months now…it’s all very overwhelming, but God is in control”.
She is grateful for the support of her friends and family. She is also thankful for her church family at the Northside Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Florida. She has been worshipping at Northside since she was 14 years old.
She Has Faith
Despite her battle with this life-threatening disease, Rhynett has faith that God will provide.
She enjoys reading, traveling, and singing. She has traveled and sung extensively, trying to be an encouragement and a blessing to the Brotherhood of her church. She loves singing and spreading the “Good News” through the gift that God has blessed her with.
Rhynett sang for many years with her church group Total Praise, as well as the Northside Acappella Mass Choir.
“Singing has always been the thing that kept me motivated and content. I miss it so much.”
Unfortunately, chemotherapy has affected her vocal cords.
Join the Registry
Please help us in Rhynett’s search to find a matching bone marrow donor. Join the registry. After clicking the link, follow the prompts to create an account and register to become a potential donor.
You can also help us spread the word by sharing Rhynett’s story.
join the registry
“I know if you can help in any way, you will. May God bless each of you for your kind hearts and loving spirits.”
-Rhynett ChapmanOlga – Todavía Me Necesitan
Ellos Todavía La Necesitan
Olga está luchando contra el cáncer por segunda vez. Ella fue diagnosticada por primera vez con leucemia en el 2016, y entró en remisión. En 2018, luchó durante meses con cansancio, dolores de cabeza constantes y hematomas extraños. En marzo, le diagnosticaron AML, leucemia mieloide aguda. El AML es un cáncer de la sangre y la médula ósea y en general, empeora rápidamente si no se trata. Su mejor oportunidad de sobrevivir es un trasplante de médula ósea.
Olga es madre de tres hijos y abuela de dos nietos. Tiene 52 años. Su familia emigró hace 15 años de su pueblo pequeño, San Buenaventura, en Coahuila, México. Vinieron buscando un mejor tratamiento para su hija Betty, que padecía de una deficiencia crónica de crecimiento. Tomó 8 años para que Betty se recuperara y para entonces, habían formado una vida aquí.
Ella ha estado casada por 30 años. Su esposo, Jesús, trabaja en la construcción y es el sostén principal de la familia. “Trabajaba en la tienda de segunda mano de mi madre en México, pero desde que llegamos aquí me he quedado en casa para cuidar de los niños y la casa,” dijo ella. No poder cuidar de su hogar es lo que más le frustra a Olga de tener cáncer, ella siempre está cansada. La familia se mudó aquí hace 15 años para buscar ayuda para su hija y ahora las cosas han cambiado. Betty dejó su trabajo para cuidar a su madre a tiempo completo.
Una temperatura elevada y un recuento bajo de glóbulos blancos hacen que Olga regrese al hospital, con Betty a su lado día y noche. “No fue así la primera vez”, dijo Olga. “Siento que me dan de alta solamente para dar la vuelta y regresar”. Ha sido hospitalizada muchas veces desde que recibió su segundo diagnóstico en marzo del 2018.
Olga no tiene seguro médico y le dijeron que las únicas opciones para el tratamiento eran el MD Anderson Center en Houston, o buscar asistencia médica en México. La historia de la familia con el sistema médico en México es lo que los llevó aquí en primer lugar. “Aquí trabajan contigo si no puedes pagar de inmediato“, dijo Betty. “En México, si no tienes el dinero por adelantado, no recibes tratamiento“.
Se Necesita Un Pueblo
La familia está agradecida por la ayuda que han estado recibiendo. Estaban agradecidos de encontrar un médico del Medical City Dallas Hospital en Dallas, Texas, que aceptó realizar el procedimiento una vez que se encuentra un donante compatible. La Fundación Icla da Silva está ayudando a la familia realizar pruebas de compatibilidad a los hermanos y hermanas de Olga tanto en los Estados Unidos como en México. Solamente alrededor del 30 por ciento de los pacientes encontrarán un donante compatible dentro de su familia. El otro 70 por ciento recurre al registro Be The Match para encontrar un donante compatible. La compatibilidad se basa en proteínas o marcadores de HLA (antígeno leucocitario humano) que se encuentran en casi todas las células del cuerpo. Ayudan al sistema inmune a identificar las células que pertenecen, y provocan las defensas del sistema inmune del cuerpo. Los tipos de HLA son heredados y personas de la misma ascendencia étnica suelen ser más compatible.
Desafortunadamente, las minorías están subrepresentadas en el registro, lo que hace que sea más difícil para esos pacientes encontrar un donante compatible. El equipo de Icla da Silva se enfoca en cambiar este desafortunado hecho y continuamos realizando campañas de donación de médula en todo el país en un intento de educar y agregar más diversidad al registro Be The Match.
Olga tiene fe en que encontrará una donante compatible y ella se recuperará. Refiriéndose a su familia, “todavía me necesitan“, dice ella, “Dios me da fuerza“.
Únete al registro para ayudar a Olga u otro de los 14,000 pacientes que buscan un donante.
ÚNETE AL REGISTRO
Olga’s Story – They Still Need Me
They Still Need Her
Olga is battling cancer for the second time. She was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2016, and went into remission. In 2018, she struggled for months with chronic fatigue, constant headaches and strange bruising. In March, she was diagnosed with AML, acute myeloid leukemia. AML is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and usually gets worse quickly if not treated. Her best chance of survival is a matching bone marrow transplant.
Olga is a 52-year-old mother of three and grandmother of two. Her family emigrated to the Dallas area fifteen years ago from a small-town named San Buenaventura, in Coahuila, Mexico. They came seeking better treatment for their daughter Betty, who was suffering from a chronic growth deficiency. It took 8 years for Betty to recover and by then, they had formed a life here.
She has been married for 30 years. Her husband Jesus works in construction and is the primary breadwinner for the family. “I used to work at my mom’s second-hand store in Mexico, but since we got here I’ve stayed home to care for the children and the house,” she said. Not being able to care for their home is what frustrates Olga the most about having cancer, she is always tired. The family moved here 15 years ago to seek help for their daughter and now the tables have turned. Betty has quit her job in order to care for her mother full-time.
An elevated temperature and low white blood cell count has Olga back in the hospital, with Betty at her bedside. “It wasn’t like this the first time,” said Olga. “I feel like they keep releasing me just so I can turn around and come right back.” She has been hospitalized many times since receiving her second diagnosis in March of 2018.
Olga has no health insurance and they have been told that the only options for treatment were the MD Anderson Center in Houston, or to seek medical assistance in Mexico. The family’s history with the medical system in Mexico is what led them here in the first place. “Here they work with you if you can’t afford to pay right away,” she said. “In Mexico, if you don’t have the money upfront, you won’t receive treatment.”
It Takes A Village
The family is thankful of the help they have been receiving. They were grateful to find a doctor from Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas, who agreed to perform the procedure once a compatible donor is found. The Icla da Silva Foundation is helping the family by testing Olga’s brothers and sisters in both the United States and in Mexico. Only about 30 percent of patients will find a match within their family. The other 70 percent turn to the Be The Match registry to find a matching donor. Compatibility is based on HLA (human leukocyte antigen) proteins or markers found on almost all cells in the body. They help the immune system identify self-cells from non-self-cells, which trigger the bodies immune response. HLA types are inherited and finding a compatible match increases with people of the same ethnic ancestry.
Unfortunately, minorities are underrepresented on the registry, making it more difficult for those patients to find a matching donor. The Icla da Silva team is focused on changing this unfortunate fact and we continue to hold marrow drives throughout the country in an attempt to educate and add more diversity to the Be The Match registry.
Olga has faith that a match will be found and she will recover. Referring to her family, “they still need me,” she says, “God gives me strength.”
Please join the registry to help Olga or one of the other 14,000 patients searching for their match.
join the registry